It matters that people have a way to use the latest findings in psychology beyond buying a pill for depression. It matters that people have a way of looking at their lives that lets them ask the big questions and determine how they want to live – and that this is supported by therapists and mental health professionals.

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Posts tagged with the category Benjamin Wachs

For years we in the Existential Psychology have been shouting at the top of our lungs that the DSM is a fatally flawed approach to mental health.  We’ve pointed out that there are no empirical bases for its categories, that its treatment approaches are often arbitrary, and that the entire exercise takes time, energy, and money,...
Ludwig Devrient as King Lear, circa 1769.
The answer seems obvious to most of us—but some neuroscientists tell us that we’re just not reading them right: the brain is sweeter and more temperate. Richard Friedman, a clinical psychiatrist, wrote a recent op-ed piece in the New York Times that is the latest iteration of this case. The brain’s reward circuitry, he writes,...
Computers have never passed the Turing Test, but plucky start-ups say software is ready to replace therapists anyway. That’s according to a recent article in The Atlantic highlighting “The Digital Future of Mental Health” -  which doesn’t sound like an overhyped tech-trends piece by a documentarian pushing a movie at...
William Ellis' 1825 sketch of missionaries preaching.
Where does identity come from? Are you a product of your culture, or are you an independent moral agent? There is a constant tension in the world between the concept of “culture” and the concept of “universal human rights.” How can both be respected when they conflict? The authors of a forthcoming paper in the journal Neuroquantology argue that...
This isn't us.  Really.
A conversation with a fellow writer turned into miniature a culture war last month when I mentioned that I didn’t believe that the human mind can be reduced to purely biochemical processes – that we are in fact more than a highly complicated biological machine. “Really?” my friend said.  He was baffled.  “I...
Are we addicted to evil? That’s the provocative question asked by Stephen Metcalf in an article for Slate.com. By piecing together the etymology of the work “amok” (as in, “he ran amok”), examining the scripted quality of media coverage of spree violence like the shootings in Aurora, and looking at the difference...
Goldman Sachs Headquarters in New York
Penn State, Goldman Sachs, Enron, University of Virginia, SuperPACS, the Catholic Church–we live in an era of institutional scandal. If you want to know why we are careening from one major institutional scandal to the next, there’s a simple answer: the psychology of power has changed. To be sure, there’s nothing new about a...
E. O. Wilson
The motto of western science may be: to freedom and back again. In his magisterial examination of Western culture, historian Jacques Barzun suggests that what makes the West “the West” is that for 500 years (from approximately the Renaissance to the present) a group of related cultures came together on a joint project that led to the...
Photo by Jo Fjompenissedalheibakke
If you get depressed when you turn on the radio, it could be the news – or it could be the music.  According to new research, pop music has gotten significantly sadder over the last half-century.  That’s measured in terms of tempo (it’s gotten slower), key (minor keys have come to predominate), and subject matter (...
The way we think about death impacts the way we live our life. "It seems," write Daniel B. Pitchford and Rochelle Suri, "that people live inauthentic lives because the fear of death has a compelling grip on people and most choose to avoid engaging its impact." It doesn't have to be that way. In a paper now available at The...
Hypothetical psychopaths and presumed sociopaths have been much in the news lately, with “The Sociopath Next Door” claiming that four percent of the population is a sociopath, and recent media reports suggesting that 10% of Wall Street employees are psychopaths.   You’d also have to have a heart of stone not to weep for...
Much of what we commonly think of as psychotherapy has come to be dominated by what we might call the toxicity of everyday life.   People are stressed and upset and depressed not because they have suffered some terrible trauma, but because they are not finding a way to make meaningful choices in a world marked by anomie yet defined by instant...